News 28th October 2016

WADA finds ‘serious failings’ with Rio 2016 anti-doping programme

The Independent Observer (IO) team appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to assess the anti-doping at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has found ‘serious failings’ with aspects the programme. A WADA statement issued today praised Rio 2016 organisers for operating the doping programme in ‘challenging circumstances’, which included major budget cutbacks due to Brazil’s economic situation.

The Rio anti-doping laboratory was suspended by WADA in June and was reinstated on 20 July, less than three weeks before the start of the Olympics on 5 August. The IOC was later forced to deny that the integrity of the Rio 2016 doping programme had been compromised due to a shortage of volunteers. Due to an IOC decision on the participation of Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was appointed for the first time as the first instance authority for anti-doping matters at the Games.

The full 55-page report praised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for implementing five main recommendations made by previous WADA IO teams despite these challenges. However, it also identified 12 major failings. These included:

• A lack of required doping control equipment at competition venues and within Doping Control Stations (DCS) at the Athlete Village;
• Lack of adequate whereabouts information to find athletes for testing during out-of-competition (OOC) periods;
• Changes in management and staff of the Rio 2016 anti-doping department one year before the Games;
• Tensions with the Brazilian anti-doping agency (ABCD) meaning it had minimal involvement in the Games;
• Lack of continuity in managing the largest DCS in the Athlete Village;
• A hotel for DCS managers and doping control officers (DCOs) was not built, meaning staff had to be moved and onerous journeys to competition venues;
• Inadequate support for chaperones;
• A lack of adequate training and assessment for doping control personnel;
• Inadequate advance planning.

As such, the IO team repeated many of the recommendations made to the IOC at previous Games. ‘Much of this report must cover old ground, making recommendations to ensure that at future Games the sample collection process returns to the standard that was set at previous Games’, read the report’s Executive Summary. ‘However, the important advances and improvements that the IOC achieved in its anti-doping program in the lead-up to Rio and at the Games themselves also set a new benchmark’.

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